Australia's Strongest Man, Coco and Coco's Gym
The Art of Discipline

Australia's Strongest Man and VERVE Athlete, aka Strongman Coco, shares his take on the Art of Discipline and his journey to becoming Australia’s Strongest man.

For more information visit



Australia's Strongest Man, Coco and Coco's Gym
The Art of Discipline

Australia's Strongest Man and VERVE Athlete, aka Strongman Coco, shares his take on the Art of Discipline and his journey to becoming Australia’s Strongest man.

For more information visit



Australia's Strongest Man, Coco and Coco's Gym

Q. Who is Strongman Coco?

Well, my real name is Jean-Stephen Coraboeuf. I’ve lived in Australia for almost 17 years and came to Australia to pursue my dream of becoming a professional golfer. However, after competing in several junior golf competitions and having reasonable success, I changed direction.

Q. Did you start training to become Australia's strongest man?

Lifting weights was always part of my golf fitness regime. However, I also found I enjoyed lifting weights. So, then I started bodybuilding, then powerlifting, and here I am—Australia's strongest man.

I don’t think I made a conscious decision or set a goal to become Australia's strongest man; it just evolved as I matured and learned more about myself, purpose, weightlifting, nutrition, and competition.

Q. Are there similarities between professional golf and strength training?

Most definitely! Growing up in Australia and having a French and Indonesian background, I have spent a lot of time training my mind to block out negative self-talk.

I loved golf too because it’s quite a meditative process that evolves not only the athletes abilities but you out and about in Mother Nature and competing with the elements she throws at you on a given day.

However, that is also part of the reason why I quit playing golf. There were many things I could not control, for example. When it’s raining, practising on the driving range is all well and good. However, when playing in competitions, practising at a driving range and playing an actual course in a pro-competition are two entirely different environments and conditions.

I have to be in charge of who I am, my thoughts and the conditions I train in; that’s how I am.

Q. Is lifting weights and being a Strongman a better fit for you?

Oh yes. Lifting weights and competing in Strongman is a much better fit and purpose for me. With weightlifting, you just have to lift the weight, and if you don’t, you lose. It’s simple, easy and I can train when and most of the time, where I want.

Q. What experiences do you feel helped you set such a successful path for yourself?

Sometimes it was hard dealing with discrimination as a youngster with Indonesian and French heritage. Sometimes I felt like an outcast because I looked different and spoke differently to most other kids.

But life’s funny. Some of us use these types of experiences to our advantage to train our mind to power on through, which I did out of necessity.

Other people let experiences like these paralyse them with fear. Sometimes for their entire life, which is sad.

When you’re young, you want to fit in. However, as you mature and acquire life experience, you realise that fitting in doesn’t matter. My parents raised me to be and live ‘judgement-free.’

Even Strongman has its stereotypes like any other profession. What I mean by that is you don’t see many Indonesian French Strongman. Most Strongmen are from Europe so having an Australian strongman with Indonesian and French heritage isn’t something you see every day.

Q. So, what are some of the other stereotypes of Strongman?

The popular stereotype is that weightlifter’s and strongmen are uneducated, undisciplined, intimidating, and taking steroids. Based on my experience, this is far from reality.

The weightlifters and Strongmen I know and have competed against are a well-educated and grounded bunch. I and others I know have University degrees and are dedicated to perfection in our chosen sports and fields using our mind, body, and soul.

This stereotype exists because we can look quite intimidating because of our physique.

It is the classic tall poppy syndrome. Look at any profession and person who’s successful.

Most people do not see or appreciate the discipline it takes to succeed!

The late nights, the sacrifices, the missed birthday parties, the highs and lows or years of isolation dedicated to training, honing and developing their skills to be the best they can be in their chosen field.

In the weightlifting and Strongman arena, most people assume that we’re taking a bunch of steroids and BOOM, we’re Strongmen now.

Like any professional sportsperson, successful business owner, or parent, we have an insatiable appetite to be the best we can be in our sport and lives and put in the work to achieve the physical, mental tenacity and success we desire.

Q. Do you have any role models or people that inspire you?

I’m more about driving myself and holding myself accountable and being in charge of my life. So instead, I admire people from all walks of life, professions and backgrounds who understand nothing in life is free.

People willing to go after their dreams make sacrifices and work hard to achieve success and whatever success means to them.

And that could be anybody. It could be a person who has started a business to create a better lifestyle for themselves or help other people or make the world a better and safer place.

It could be a mother who has decided to stay at home to look after her kids or a person with a drinking problem who has remained sober.

It could be a weightlifter or sportsperson who has come from obscurity and risen to the top of their game through commitment and hard work.

I admire people who strive to be the best. Those who have the grit, passion, and commitment to work hard and go after what they want in their life.

Q. How did Coco’s Gym on the Gold Coast get started?

Okay, back in the day, there was no specific gym dedicated to Strongman training.

So, when I first opened Coco’s Gym in 2014, my key focus was to provide specialists with Strongman training only. And before my gym opened, most strongmen would train in their backyard using their own equipment. However, training in your backyard also increases the likelihood of poor technique and even potential injury. At our gym, Strongman consists of support and training using the correct methods.

Of course, like everything in life and business, Coco’s Gym has evolved too.

These days, we provide specialised Strongman training and online coaching, strength and conditioning coaching, and powerlifting training at our Molendinar Gym to amateurs and professionals of all ages and genders.

Q. So, how long did it take you to become Australia’s strongest man?

It took me a long time, hey. I first started competing in the under <105kgs>. So I won the under <105kgs> Australasia Australian Strongest Man title twice.

The first title I won was in 2015. It was my second year of competing professionally, and I won it again in 2016.

After the 2016 title win, I was asking myself what’s next. Competing internationally in events like the IFBB Arnold Sports Festival, also known as the Arnold Schwarzenegger Sports Festival, seemed like the next logical step, so that’s what I did.

However, commitments at my Strongman gym took a lot of my time and energy, and it was challenging to take the necessary time off to train appropriately for world events. Plus, as a Strongman, you fund a lot of the costs yourself to attend these events.

I have many sponsors who help financially, but I do not expect them or want them to pay my way. I prefer to work and train people, pay my way and do it myself.

So I focused on building my gym and winning Australia's Strongest Man ASM title. Winning the ASM took me a long time because I went from the <105kgs> division to the open division.

The first time I competed in the ASM in 2017, I came third. The second time I competed in 2018, I won second. And in 2019, I won Australia’s Strongest Man title.

Q. So, what’s the future hold for you and Coco’s Gym?

Now that I’ve won quite a few titles, including Australia's Strongest Man title, I want to focus on and pursue other personal goals.

I’ll still compete in events I choose to, and I’m also getting older. However, competing in Strongman competitions is a younger person’s game. For now, I am at a point where I’ll focus my time and energy on bringing other personal goals to life outside of Strongman.

I’ll continue to train people in powerlifting and Strongman at Coco’s Gym. However, it feels like the right time and place to pursue and achieve my other goals, as there is more to life than just training and competing in Strongman. The tools and skills I have fine-tuned over the years apply to other interests; that’s the beauty and art of discipline; it transfers to any area of your life.